How Big Is the U.S. Debt?

Antony Davies,

Release Date
February 11, 2011


Gov't Debt & Spending

Economics professor Antony Davies illustrates the size the U.S. federal government’s debt and unfunded obligations. He breaks down U.S. debt and obligations into constituent parts and compares them with the size of the GDP of countries around the world, showing the magnitude of America’s fiscal situation.
For more details on the total federal debt, start on slide 35 of this PowerPoint presentation.

How Big Is the U.S. Debt?
How far in debt is the U.S. government?
Let’s put the numbers in perspective.
This is the economy of Germany. The entire economic output of this country is about $3 trillion a year.
This is the amount of money that the government has borrowed from the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, about $4 trillion.
Here’s China’s economy.
Here’s Japan’s economy.
Here’s the amount of money the federal government has borrowed from private citizens and from other countries, about $9 trillion.
Here’s our economy. Here is unfunded Social Security obligations. This is an amount of money that the federal government has promised to current and future retirees for which it does not have money, and that includes future expected tax revenues.
Here is the European Union.
Here’s unfunded Medicare obligations. These are promises of medical care the federal government has made to current and future retirees which it cannot cover.
Here is the total debt in unfunded obligations. This is the total amount of money the federal government either has borrowed or has promised to pay other people. At $65 trillion it outstrips the economic output of the entire planet.